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Dinosaur Jr: I Bet On Sky

Album Review

Cranked-up sadcore from the Robert Smith of sludge metal.

Five years into their classic line-up re-formation, the original guitar-shredding power trio of country-punk grunge-core continue to sound like nobody else.

It has long been clear that J Mascis has little interest in straying very far from the signature Dinosaur Jr sound of sleepy-voiced sludge-metal slathered in gloriously incontinent guitar solos, but I Bet On Sky still contains a few offbeat surprises. 

Opening track Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know immediately wrongfoots listeners with its jaunty funk-pop strumming and bubbling keyboard melody, although Mascis crashes in halfway through with some reassuringly sloppy, loud, mud-caked fretwork. Likewise Rude, featuring bassist Lou Barlow on vocals, which skips along with an incongruously perky power-pop freshness. 

But mostly, the trio’s third post-comeback album sticks to familiar terrain, which will delight fans of vintage Mascis sadcore. There’s the bone-weary honky-tonk clatter of Almost Fare and the melancholy stop-start power-ballad riff-chugger Stick A Toe In: ‘Take my hand,’ the singer groans, ‘don’t let me cheat you of the feeling you deserve’. 

Like The Cure’s Robert Smith, whose songs he has covered, Mascis sometimes seems to be stuck in a perpetual loop of whiny teenage self-pity. Both are prisoners of instantly recognisable voices, but on good form, both transform depressive moans into powerfully emotive music.

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